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Gorst: Charlie Parker didn't carry out my vision

Gorst: Charlie Parker didn't carry out my vision

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Gorst: Charlie Parker didn't carry out my vision

Wednesday 30 March 2022

The former Government Chief Executive failed to carry out the task of slashing the cost and size of Government he was recruited to do, according to the Minister who recruited him.

Former Chief Minister and current External Relations Minister Senator Ian Gorst said that he regretted hiring Charlie Parker in late 2017, months ahead of the 2018 election.

By March 2018, Mr Parker had outlined a vision for ‘OneGov’ – a plan to tear up the structure of government in a bid to slim down management, save money and help departments work better together. 

Within the same month, States Members passed a new law - known as P1 - paving the way for those major structural changes, and giving Mr Parker more power over civil servants.

However, in 2020, he agreed to step down in the wake of his second job scandal - a departure, prior to the completion of the 'OneGov' regime, which cost taxpayers £500,000.

Reflecting on the changes ushered in by Mr Parker, Senator Gorst told Express's Politics Disassembled PodcastI don’t think what I brought him in to do happened and I think that’s a great disappointment."

He later added: "That programme at the start we said was going to save money and reduce the size of government – we sit here today and we’re spending £200m more than what we were per annum and we’ve got hundreds more staff in Government. That’s not what my vision is, that’s not what my vision was."


CLICK TO LISTEN: Senator Gorst spoke about his views on the OneGov regime on the Politics Disassembled podcast.

However, Senator Gorst said he was "prepared to take my share of the blame".

"I recruited somebody on the premise, I suppose, that I would then be Chief Minister, and work with them to deliver my vision, and I wasn’t, so I don’t step away from making the recruitment," he explained.<

Rather than sharing his vision, he said that the Government that followed was "more willing to spend more and more willing to grow the number of people employed in government". 

"I regret that I made that recruitment and made that recruitment at that time and put Charlie through what he then went through – I wouldn’t wish that on anyone," he later said.

Politicians and local critics have since questioned whether P1 reduced Ministers' ability to hold their officers to account, and get them to follow instructions.

However, Senator Gorst suggested he disagreed with this analysis.

Senator Gorst later added: "When I brought forward P1, it never occurred to me that you’d potentially have politicians or Ministers who weren’t able to articulate a vision and tell the civil service what they wanted doing and then make it happen because that’s always been my experience in every Council of Ministers I’ve served in," he said.

"Ministers were strong, Ministers told officials what they wanted to happen and they came forward with programmes to deliver that."

 He said that, while P1 gave Mr Parker more power, he didn't use it.

"He basically used his power of personality... Some of that is what’s annoyed people about him. Quite a lot of it, I think, is rather than fully understanding the Jersey context, he just bulldozed through a programme."

However, he acknowledged that the government was more joined up than previously - and credited this for the island's covid response.

"Did the civil service need stirring up and changing and thinking and being encouraged to think the unthinkable? Of course it did, but now we’ve got a new CEO [Suzanne Wylie] and even though she’s only been here for a couple of months, I think she’s very good, she seems to understand Jersey and I think she will now build on – you could say there’s been a lot of chaos and now somebody can settle it down, get it to the right place."


Pictured: New Government CEO Suzanne Wylie.

Looking to his own future, Senator Gorst said that he felt there was more work to do as External Relations Minister, with changes to the corporate tax regime, the MONEYVAL assessment in 2023 on the horizon.

"Having said that, if an incoming Chief Minister says, 'Why don’t you consider this or this, and we’ll move things around a bit?', then I’ll be open to that as well."


INSIGHT: Unlimited power with limited accountability

INSIGHT: 'Jerseyness' and the OneGov legacy

INSIGHT: So, you want to recruit a new Gov CEO…

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Scott Mills on
That's because you have no vision anyway. Yes that's like the classic "Blame the pilot" when a crash occurs. Pure deflection...time for you to go...independent or not.
Posted by Bruce Willing on
Senator Gorst should examine his conscience. He hired him and when he went 'off piste', should have disciplined him and when he did not listen, sack him.
Posted by Michael Blampied on
Prior to retirement I survived many annual performance reviews during my career. In fairness most of them were reasonably favourable but I'd trade them all in for a c**p one if it came with a £500k payoff. You really couldn't make it up.
Posted by Philip Hudson on
So is gorst saying he was not doing his job properly and was failing to implement the mandate his job carried, if so, how on earth does this guy get bonuses and a golden handshake on his departure.
As they say you could not write this stuff.
Posted by Lesley Ricketts on
Charlie Parker was never going to sing to anyone’s tune but his own. Any fool could have recognised that immediately!
Posted by Jimmy Mack on
If Mr Gorst had any conscience he would have resigned with Mr Parker and offered to pay the K500 instead of landing us with the bill
Posted by Michael Tostevin on
Charlie Parker did what he was asked to do and that was to try and save the Government money by trimming down and amalgamating departments. Trouble is most of these departments have been left under staffed, which is why we are seeing so many mistakes being made throughout and departments like the Income Tax, (sorry Revenue Jersey) having to employ people from HMRC. Question is , at what cost?.
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